by Lauren Freitas, DPT
For tennis players, volleyball players and even golfers, the combination of hip and thoracic range of motion with trunk and hip strength translates to increased power capacity of your shots. Most injuries in the shoulder and lower back can be prevented by strengthening your core and utilizing your hips and trunk for power, rather than relying on your shoulder and lumbar spine to power your shots. The abdominal muscles, obliques and lower back muscles are used extensively for the 3 basic and most important shots in tennis – the serve, forehand and backhand strokes. Strengthening your core will provide that crucial stability for times when you are knocked off balance or pressed by an opponent on the baseline; a strong core can be the difference between a good shot and a bad one.
Research has shown that elite tennis players have significantly greater trunk rotational strength than novice players. But more importantly, elite players had SYMMETRICAL rotational strength, meaning there was no difference from side to side. This implies that you should be training both sides for rotational strength at the same intensity to decrease muscular imbalances.
Start by addressing any restrictions in mobility here in order to set yourself up for success in power training. Developing strength and power in trunk rotation can be done with a variety of equipment and drills. But this is crucial: do them on BOTH SIDES to maintain muscular balance! The following exercises are some of my favorites:
Chops (3 sets x 15 reps each side)
Start in a staggered lunge position with leg closest to the band extended back. Elbows stay extended as you drop into a lunge and chop across your body with the resistance band.
Rotational Slams (3 sets x 10 reps each side)
Start standing tall with med ball overhead. Using the core, twist hips and trunk to the right as you slam the ball down on the ground outside of your right foot.
Standing Resisted Trunk Rotations (3 sets x 15 reps each side)
Using a belt (or your robe tie) make a loop around your long resistance band and secure the band into the door. Hook the belt around your right shoulder with band crossed in front of your body as you rotate 360 degrees to the right, having the band contact the front of your hip. Slightly bend at your hips and knees and drive with your hips/pelvis to rotate to the right into the resistance band.
Lateral Medicine Ball Toss (2 sets x 10 reps each side)
Standing at wall in lunge with right foot in front, throw med ball into the wall by rotating torso to the right as you release ball. Catch the ball, keeping the lower body stable while upper body and trunk rotate.
Please reach out for further guidance on developing rotational strength and power or to schedule an appointment.